LAURELS: Grounds Crew a Credit to Our Campus

Groundskeeper prunes bushes.
Four-star groundskeeping: Steve Prewett prunes bushes in the Tercero Residence Area. (Karin Higgin/UC Davis photo)


  • We’re the 1st in the nation to earn reaccreditation for landscape management and operations
  • Stacey Harmer wins Faculty Research Award in College of Biological Sciences
  • Frank Zalom is 1st entomologist in 50 years to receive B.Y. Morrison medal from USDA’s Agricultural Research Service
  • Professor H.L. Shivaprasad inducted into American Association of Avian Pathologists’ Hall of Honor
  • Professor Steven George elected a fellow of Biomedical Engineering Society
  • Marie Heffern, assistant professor, among chemistry’s “Talented 12”

Grounds and Landscape Services is definitely keeping up the good work!

Three years ago, UC Davis earned recognition as one of the first three universities in the United States — and the only one in California — to receive accreditation from the Professional Grounds Management Society, or PGMS. Now, UC Davis has become the first university to win PGMS reaccreditation for landscape management and operations.

“We were the first campus to receive four out of four stars, and we were reaccredited as a four-star campus.” said Cary Avery, who leads Grounds and Landscape Services. and is a PGMS-certified grounds manager.

“Reaccreditation validates our continuing efforts to nurture a sustainable and environmentally friendly landscape, and to do so in an economical manner.”

His 62-person crew — gardeners and irrigation specialists, sports turf specialists and arborists, groundskeepers, laborers, equipment operators and a mechanic — has a lot of ground to cover, day in and day out, in all kinds of weather.

They have responsibility for the campus’s 14,000-plus trees (100 species), in and out of the arboretum; and 300 acres of lawn and turf, 50 acres of shrubs and 25 acres of groundcover around the central campus, including the residential areas. For irrigation, the team maintains around 80,000 sprinkler heads, 7,000 valves and 300 zone controllers connected to a centralized control system that saves the campus 16 million gallons of water annually.

Grounds and Landscape Services also collects trash and recyclables, and cleans miles of walkways and acres of parking lots.

Put everything together, from the walkways to the lawns and turf, and the plants and trees, and you end up with the campus’s iconic beauty. “I cannot say enough about our team,” Avery said. “It’s because of them that people have pride in how our campus looks.”  

Stacey Harmer stands amid plants.
Award recipient Harmer, in the Life Sciences Building greenhouse. (David Slipher/UC Davis photo)

Stacey Harmer, professor of plant biology, is the recipient of the College of Biological Sciences 2016-17 Faculty Research Award for her work on the circadian clocks of sunflowers.

Based on faculty nominations, the award acknowledges the exciting, innovative and significant advances in research in the College of Biological Sciences, as reflected in a published article — in this case Harmer’s paper in Science magazine describing how sunflowers track the sun, beginning each morning with their heads facing east, slowly swinging west throughout the day and then resetting eastward at night.

“It’s the first example of a plant’s clock modulating growth in a natural environment, and having real repercussions for the plant,” said Harmer, the paper’s senior author.

Savithramma Dinesh-Kumar, professor and chair, Department of Plant Biology, said: “This is a very interesting and groundbreaking paper and answers a century-old mystery: why and how sunflowers track the sun. It is remarkable that Dr. Harmer and her colleagues designed experiments in challenging field settings to show that the plants internal clock influences solar tracking to promote growth.”

Harmer is a member of the American Society of Plant Biologists and the Society for Research on Biological Rhythms. She was named a UC Davis Chancellor’s Fellow from 2011 to 2016.

Read more about Harmer and her research.

Frank Zalom recently gave the B.Y. Morrison Memorial Lecture, as the first entomologist to be accorded the honor since the Agricultural Research Service established the lectureship in 1968.

Zalom is a distinguished professor and Cooperative Extension specialist in integrated pest management, or IPM. In choosing Zalom for the lectureship, and the medal that goes with it, the Agricultural Research Service cited him for his work in IPM related to sustainable horticulture production.

He delivered his lecture, “Significance of Integrated Pest Management to Sustainable Horticultural Production — Observations and Experiences,” and received his medal in Hawaii at the annual conference of the American Society for Horticultural Science.

The lectureship is named in honor of the late Benjamin Y. Morrison, the first director of the U.S. National Arboretum, which is run by the ARS.

H.L. Shivaprasad mugshot

Professor H.L. “Prasad” Shivaprasad of the School of Veterinary Medicine is among 19 new inductees into the American Association of Avian Pathologists’ Hall of Honor.

“Whether it be in research and development, teaching, collaborating with colleagues, developing new programs or volunteering, these individuals are passionate about their causes, and their dedication inspires others,” said Suzanne Dougherty, executive vice president of the American Association of Avian Pathologists, or AAAP.

Shivaprasad has worked in the Fresno and Tulare labs of the UC Davis-affiliated California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System since 1989. He is has traveled to more than 30 countries on invitation primarily for teaching. 

He has been involved in avian diagnostics, teaching and research for close to 40 years. He has discovered many novel infectious agents, most notably hepatitis E virus in chickens and Muscovy duck parvovirus in ducks in the United States, as well as novel picornavirus in turkeys and avian bornavirus in psittacines (including parrots).

In 2015, Shivaprasad received the AAAP’s C.A. Bottorff Award, recognizing an avian diagnostician/technical service veterinarian for significant contributions to the poultry health program in North America over the preceding 10 years.

In 2016, he had the honor of having a conference dedicated to him — the 16th Hafez International Conference on Turkey Diseases, held in Berlin — recognizing his contributions to the study of pathogenesis, diagnosis and control of turkey diseases.

Shivaprasad is co-editor of the AAAP’s Avian Disease Manual and associate editor of the book, Manual of Poultry Diseases. He has published 160 papers, 42 book chapters and presented more than 400 papers in national and international conferences. The Journal of Veterinary Pathology chose a paper he co-authored as the best to have been published in the journal in 2011.

Steven George, professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, has been elected as a fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society. His work involves creating laboratory models of tissues such as heart, pancreas and tumor tissue with a combination of microfabrication and stem cell technology.

Marie Heffern, assistant professor of chemistry, has been named a “rising, young star in chemistry,” included with 11 others on Chemical & Engineering News’ “Talented 12” list.

Chemical & Engineering News, published by the American Chemical Society, described Heffern’s work as “uncovering the roles trace metals play in hormone biology.”

The news magazine staff evaluated more than 150 nominations, after welcoming submissions from a group of advisors as well as last year’s “Talented 12,” and the public.

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